PARKSTON -- The Winner girls continue to make school history.
Not long after winning their first state girls basketball title in school history, the Warriors are headed back to another state volleyball tournament.
The Warriors held off Hamlin in four sets to secure another spot to the Class A state volleyball tournament on Nov. 21-23 in Rapid City. Winner defeated the Chargers 25-19, 25-10, 17-25 and 25-10 in a SoDak 16 state-qualifying match on Tuesday.
Winner is now headed back to the state tournament for the second straight season. It’s the first time in school history the Warriors have gone to back-to-back state volleyball tournaments. No. 4 Winner (26-4) will play No. 5 Sioux Falls Christian (26-9) at 3:45 p.m. in the opening round on Nov. 21.
“Of course that was our goal bringing back a lot of people,” Winner coach Jaime Keiser said. “We sure knew we had the talent. We weren’t satisfied with how we did last year at the state tournament. So they always kept that in mind and worked for it all summer long. So it’s a good feeling.”
On Tuesday, the Warriors won their 17th straight match of the season to earn another trip to state. They did it behind the hitting of Morgan Hammerbeck (22 kills), Ellie Brozik (16 kills) and Kalla Bertram (14 kills).
“Those are our big hitters,” Keiser said. “When we can get them going we are pretty much unstoppable for the most part and Kalla Bertram did a nice job of stepping up and they of course tried to stop Ellie or Morgan and we can throw Kalla in there.”
The Warriors shook off a sluggish start in the first set and pulled away for the opening-set victory. They carried the momentum into the second set for a 2-0 lead.
But Winner couldn’t complete the sweep in the third set.
“It shows that we are not unbeatable,” Hammerbeck said. “It’s good for us to have to play through that.”
The Chargers took advantage of Winner’s lapse in serve-receive, while the Warriors also went away from attacking the ball.
“I think our communication there fell apart,” Keiser said. “... If we attacked the ball they couldn’t stop us and when I came over them to start the fourth set, I said ‘what happened?’ They knew immediately we quit attacking the ball.”
They went back to attacking in the final set. The Warriors turned a 7-6 advantage into a 19-6 lead and closed it out from there.
Maggie LaCompte finished with six aces and 13 digs. Hammerback added three aces and also had 15 digs. Mackenzie Levi dished out 32 assists and added 16 digs. Shannon Calhoon had four kills and one solo block.
The Warriors will now look to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish at state.
“We are not satisfied just to get there,” Keiser said. “We want to show that we can do some things there, too.”